Originally Posted by KronoRed
I'd agree with this, half of In Utero was songs that had been kicking around since 1990, some of which got dumped from Nevermind, from the outside it seems the band was creatively tapped out already.
Cobain certainly seemed to hit the wall on In Utero. As I mentioned before, he was so far up his own backside (lyrically speaking) that it left him with nothing to say. No one cares about a poor, little rock star.
The triumph of Nevermind was that it found a certain joy in confusion and alienation. It seemed consciously aware of the idea that if we're all confused and alienated, then at least we've got something in common ... and here's a few catchy tunes about that. You could sing along to Nevermind, pump your fist to it, bounce around in a pit of strangers to it, turn it up loud on your car stereo on a warm summer's night and feel good to it. The record didn't feel sorry for itself, didn't ask you to feel bad about anything (even if it regularly acknowledged that we don't live in a smiley-faced world). It had a celebratory vibe, an infectious, unspoken positivism that cleaved through the grunge.
"Smells Like Teen Spirit" had what Alice Cooper's "Eighteen" had. "Come As You Are" had what Tom Petty's "Breakdown" had. All those songs sent something soaring above the madness.
Maybe it was too much to ask for Cobain to touch that nerve again. He very well might have touched it by accident. He certainly seemed unable to reconcile the accessibility of Nevermind (a stellar artistic accomplishment) with the dour facade he associated with being a serious artist.